Tom Schaad

Nixon Resigns: The WAVY Newsroom Remembers

August 8th, 2014 at 8:35 am by under News, Personalities, Politics, Uncategorized
Richard Nixon announces his resignation to the nation.

Richard Nixon announces resignation (NBC News photo)

“To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.

Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.”    

Richard M. Nixon   August 8, 1974

 

Those words coming through our 19 inch Magnavox echoed relief for my father.  To say he never cared for Richard Nixon was kind at best.  The television images revealed a blank, defeated look in the president’s brown eyes.  A sheaf of papers in the foreground seemed  to provide a thin wall between a fallen leader and the people whose trust was betrayed.  A wall that no longer could hide the truth.  I don’t recall what dad said during that primetime speech,  but I remember he was elated over the president stepping down.   It’s not hard to imagine, being that he was a  union carpenter, who always pulled the lever for Democrats.   “Tricky Dick,”  that pejorative often used towards Nixon by his detractors, could often be heard from the lips of  my father, who like many in 1974, thought the country was on the wrong track.   I, at 12 years old, was more concerned about the Pittsburgh Pirates making their run at another division title, and the girls who frequented the baseball fields watching us play on those muggy summer days.   But that speech left me with an empty feeling  about what nation I would inherit.  The President of the United States had just announced he was leaving– a watershed moment for a decade that marked a turning point in America.    Our dinner conversation in the 1970′s often centered on high inflation,  something called the “energy crisis,” and Watergate–the scandal that led to this television view of a tired looking man;  the most powerful leader in the world exiting the White House under a cloud of shame.

Photos of Watergate players.

WAVY-TV News Director Jim Gilchriest, who was just 11 at the time,  took his cue from his parents as they watched this historic broadcast.

“When he said, ‘I shall resign the presidency, effective at noon tomorrow’ my mother gasped and, in reaction to her, I started crying.”

WAVY Sports Director Bruce Rader worked for a Washington TV station during that summer of 1974.  He recalls spending the night in a station truck on Pennsylvania Avenue next to Lafayette Park near the White House.

“That night all three networks did live cut ins while thousands of young people celebrated behind us on Pennsylvania Avenue. I asked a couple of DC police officers if they would help us with the rowdy kids during our lives shots, and the cops told us we were the reason the President was being forced to resign and they were not going to help us at all.   As soon as we turned off our lights at 11:30, the DC police lined up in riot gear on Pennsylvania Avenue near the executive office building and started marching down Pennsylvania Avenue swinging their billy clubs hitting the demonstrators.  Many of the young people were taken to the hospital, some with serious injuries.” 

NBC's Tom Brokaw reporting from Washington's Lafayette Park

NBC’s Tom Brokaw reporting from Washington’s Lafayette Park

 

Rader also remembers a seeing a young Tom Brokaw,  who had become the NBC White House Correspondent just a year before, and “couldn’t imagine he would be covering the Gerald Ford White House.”

America was winding down it’s involvement in Vietnam, and a deep recession was hurting families across all income levels.    To this 12 year old, it seemed the world was coming apart.   Our once beacon of hope for the free world,  seemed to be descending into darkness.   WAVY’s  Chief Meteorologist Don Slater recalls the climax and resolution of Watergate with a sentiment shared by millions,

“Once the end happened and the President resigned, it was a scary moment.   Whoa! This has never happened before. What happens now? What is the future of my country?”

The next day provided the resolution to this national drama.   From the vantage point much closer to history, Bruce Rader recalled a tragic figure making his final walk from the White House after passing the torch to Vice President Gerald Ford.   This scene would transform Rader’s choice of career in television.

Final goodbye (photo from Ollie Atkins)

Final goodbye (photo from Ollie Atkins)

 

“Nixon got on his helicopter waved to his staff and took off.  I had been at the White House for over 24 hours, I went back to the office and they sent me to RFK Stadium because we were broadcasting a Redskins preseason game that night.  It was at that point I decided once and for all I did not want to cover news I was more comfortable in sports.   At least in sports somebody wins.”

 

 


Mom’s 96 years: a timeline of love

May 9th, 2014 at 2:29 pm by under News, Personalities
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1962 at our home outside Pittsburgh

World War I had ended; Babe Ruth was just showing the sparks of explosive dominance on the diamond,  Mississippi had become the first state in the union to ratify prohibition, and a most remarkable woman was just beginning her long journey of service to God and family.

America was just asserting itself as a world power when my mother entered the picture in 1918.  A recent trip to Pittsburgh marked her 96th birthday, and Marie Schaad still had that authoritarian gleam in her eye, which always served as a warning to be on your best behavior–or else.  She possesses a narrow sense of right and wrong tempered by tolerance and love.   This woman’s life evolved like fine wine over the turbulent decades of the 20th century.  The backdrop of her memories could serve any student of history.  But modesty is another quality of mom’s DNA.  So it’s no suprise that she is a reluctant subject for an interview.

 

“Everybody’s celebrating my age,”  mom told me with an ever-so-slight tone of sarcasm.

I then asked about her earliest memories.

“I don’t remember anything anymore.”

“C’ mon mom, you used to tell me about going to movies with grandma.”

That was the nudge which opened the gate to about 1924.

“The first thing I remember is a clicking sound.  You know,  movies were silent in those days.   That was my first recollection of the movies.”

Some  recall traumatic scenes as a child.    For my mother, it was a flickering black and white image playing in a dark ornate theater in downtown Pittsburgh.

Mom and me at her April birthday celebration

Mom and me at her April birthday celebration

“I remember one thing that scared the devil out of me.   I was about 6.  At that time,  they had orchestras that accompanied the movies .   One  (movie) had a railaroad crash, and the music got louder and louder right before two trains collided, and that scared the life out of me.  I wouldn’t go to movies for years after that.”

But she also remembers what could have been a real-life gangster flick which played out in her neighborhood during that same decade of jazz and bathtub gin.  I wrote about it extensively following a previous conversation.  You can read it here.

Movies and entertainment, pop culture, if you will,  didn’t do much for mom.  Her memories during the Great Depression center around the home, and what it took to get by.  Many of you remember  stories from grandparents and great-grandparents.  I happen to be only one generation removed from that experience.  My grandfather went from building homes and supervising huge construction projects,  to barely earning enough to put food on the table.

“Grandpap couldn’t get any work.  He did landscaping for 25 cents an hour.   Uncle John had a secure job working for a paint company.  They used to bring us food.    I also remember eating a lot of stewed tomatoes with bread in those days. I got a job in a real estate office doing secretarial work:  typing and shorthand.  It was about $20  a month.”

It was during this segment of the conversation where mom talked briefly about 1930′s race relations and how it pertained to her job.

“We had a rental list–special lists for ‘colored’ people.   I would get calls, and the voice on the other end would ask,  ’Do you have anything for colored?’   Black people lived in the Hill District, (of Pittsburgh) and that’s the way things were then.  It took a lot of years to change that.”

Then there was the scene with my father on December 7th, 1941, which Hollywood couldn’t have written any better.

“We were in a movie Sunday afternoon.  We came out of the movie, and the newspaper boy was announcing the fact that we were at war.  It affected us because we weren’t married yet.  I figured dad would have to go to war.  That kept us from getting married. ”

At Lake Erie circa 1966

 

Mom’s patience is another one of her blessed qualities.  She and dad dated seven years.   He was initally declared 4-F because of his heart, but more men were being drafted in the final months of the war.

“I remember in 1944  that he said.  ‘If I’m not in the army by spring, we’re getting married.’

Not the most romantic proposal, but my father was a man of his word.   Mom and dad were married 31 years until he died in 1975.

I asked mom, a lifelong devout Catholic,  about the assassination of President Kennedy, what it meant to her losing a man who shared her faith.

“I remember Bernie (my older sister) coming up through the yard,  and she was crying.   I think I cried for three days.  It affected me that way.”

That meant something coming from a woman who always keeps her composure, and rarely did I see her shed a tear while growing up.  Maybe part of that comes from  mom’s generation.  Emotions were kept to oneself.  Family and work took precedence over leisure and laughter, although mom might be one of the happiest people I know.

She never complained about the daily load of chores that came with the title “housewife” in her day.

“It was everything.  The rooms need painted?   They were painted when dad came home.  I finished the upstairs.  I spackled the walls and put the textured paint and had dinner ready.  I cut the grass, and made dresses and curtains.    I didn’t have a dryer.  Grandma gave me her dryer when you were born.  I never watched soap operas–never got addicted to them.”

Quite frankly, with a schedule like that, there wasn’t time.

Mom on her 96th birthday in April

Mom on her 96th birthday in April

Mom has spent nearly a century on this earth embracing a style of feminine strength and simple dignity.  She was never one to put on airs, so it’s no surprise her secret to long life is really not much of a secret at all.

“Don’t smoke.  Don’t drink.   And don’t get upset over things.  I  just eat whatever I want to eat, and  I don’t eat too much.  Housework was my exercise.  Cutting the grass and yardwork.  I also have steps here too.  Steps going down to the cellar, and steps going upstairs.”

So much for gym memberships or zumba classes.   Mom has been blessed with physical health.  Besides her four pregnancies, she spent just one day in the hospital.   But mom does not live by bread alone.

“Faith is number one, I used to go to mass everyday.   Now I watch it everyday on TV.  My walking is not as good as it used to be, so I resort to television.”

So how did she survive a near century-long trip on earth?

” Lucky I guess.”

My two sisters, brother and I are the lucky ones.

 


An Afternoon Start to the Evening News

February 28th, 2014 at 4:39 pm by under 10 On Your Side, News, Personalities

It seems we’re all affected by something I call “time creep.”  Everything is starting a little earlier these days, and that would include 10 on your side, which has just launched a 4pm newscast.   It’s an early appetizer of the days events, and news happening now.  I couldn’t resist snapping off a few behind the scenes photos.  See you at 4! 

The gang is ready for WAVY News 10 at 4pm

The gang is ready for WAVY News 10 at 4pm


The Newsroom: Photos Behind the Scenes

February 20th, 2014 at 9:46 pm by under 10 On Your Side, News, Personalities, Uncategorized
WAVY Photojournalist Drew Smith on a night story.

WAVY Photojournalist Drew Smith on a night story.

By now, many of you know how much I enjoy photography, which walks hand in hand with storytelling.  I recently spent a few spare moments in between newscasts capturing the scenes of co-workers undertaking the daily responsibility of being on your side.  I hope I captured some of the serious work and light-hearted moments of  The Newsroom.   See photos here.


The newsroom’s top 5 at 5: Meeting of the minds

February 19th, 2014 at 3:41 pm by under 10 On Your Side, News, Personalities
WAVY producer Laura Mammarella listens to afternoon presentation with fellow producer David Craft

WAVY producer Laura Mammarella listens to afternoon presentation with fellow producer David Craft

It’s a twice daily event; a meeting of the minds, where we bounce ideas off of each other for stories to occupy slots in the late news.  The tone of these 3 pm meetings ranks somewhere between a business conference and a 2-for-1 happy hour (minus the drinks).   This meeting takes on special significance, since it marks the final afternoon conference for two talented producers:  Laura Mammarella is staying on the late news, with added responsibility.  But David Craft is moving to our daytime line-up, as we endure a bit of producer shuffle.  Laura has a quiet professional approach to the job, while David projects a booming personality, made bigger by an infectious laugh.  Strong story ideas pitched by Lauren Compton and Jason Marks made this affair brief.   You see more on our late news.  But first, today’s top 5 at 5.

1.)  2 dead on Maersk Alabama.    The former Navy SEALs, who worked for Virginia Beach based security firm,  were discovered Tuesday on the container ship, which was docked in Port Victoria in Seychelles off the coast of Africa.  Art Kohn is working his sources as I write this.    The Maersk Alabama was recently featured in the movie “Captain Phillips,” which was based on the story of the ship’s hijacking by pirates off the coast of Somalia in 2009.

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2.) Man accused of sexual battery at Norfolk school.   Anne McNamara is following a story which requires some serious digging.    A female student told police a man inside Bayview Elementary touched her inappropriately.   Police have charged him with aggravated sexual battery.  More details are coming at 5.

3.) Dodge tolls; pay the price.   Andy Fox explains why taking alternate routes to avoid tolls at the tunnels could cost you in a way you may not have considered.

4.)  New rules of the game?   Anita Blanton has found the Virginia High School League, an organization which regulates high school activities,  is considering new regulations on transgendered athletes.

5.)  Two Bucks could get you $400 million.   The only investment with that kind of yield is a powerball lottery ticket.   But such a lucrative payoff comes with odds of winning it all at 1-in-175 million.  In other words, you have a better chance of being crushed by a vending machine. 

David Craft listen to Asst.  News Directpr Mark Kurtz in afternoon meeting.

David Craft listen to Asst. News Directpr Mark Kurtz in afternoon meeting.

Nicole and I will see you at 5, and yes I will pony up a pair of George Washington portraits for that long shot, and avoid my next trip upstairs for that Diet Coke.

 


The Newsroom’s top 5 at 5: The weather breaks

February 18th, 2014 at 3:03 pm by under 10 On Your Side, News, Personalities, Uncategorized
Hampton Roads soars into the 60's, as meteorologist  Tiffany Savona works in the weather center.

Hampton Roads soars into the 60′s, as meteorologist Tiffany Savona works in the weather center.

 Everyone seems a little more excited  since the sun peaked through winter’s grey veil, and temperatures reached 60 plus degrees.   The newsroom is a little giddier, a little louder, and a lot busier.  In between chatter on who was on Fallon’s Tonight Show premiere, and tutorials from Jane Alverez-Wertz on how to post stories on WAVY.com, our team is working their sources and pulling together the big stories to watch from your community.   So, here are my top 5 things to watch during our 90 minutes of news beginning at 5.

1.)  Man accused of killing infant daughter.    Taking the life of an  innocent child perhaps is the most heinous crime one can commit.   Outrage is multiplied when you factor in this little girl was just five months old; totally dependent on someone for life, only to have it taken away.  Anne McNamara has the difficult task of sifting through the details of a story all of us wish would never have to report.

Photojournalist Aaron Kurtz edits Andy Fox's special report you'll see at 6.

Photojournalist Aaron Kurtz edits Andy Fox’s special report you’ll see at 6.

2.)  Murder suspect walks.  Andy Fox is once again asking the tough questions stemming from the case of Eric Nixon, an 18 year old accused of murder in the shooting death of a 16 year old at a carnival.   Andy broke this story last fall, and now has access to the internal investigation about how this could happen.  Andy has some startling revelations in his story: a must see at 6.

 3.) ”Fun” in funeral not funny.   This may be difficult for many of our viewers with ties to the military.  But two pictures posted to social media by a member of  the Wisconsin National Guard Funeral Honor Guard are sparking outrage.  You’ll see them on WAVY News 10 at 5.  One of the captions reads: “We put the ‘fun’ in funeral.”  The military is now investigating.

4.)  Community fires back on gun violence.    This weekend’s shooting just off the campus of Old Dominion University has obviosuly upset those who live in Lambert’s Point.  Lauren Compton is with them now at a civic league  meeting.   She’ll tell us what’s happening at 5:30.

5.)  Saturday snow days heating up.   We’ve been on this when the snow was still flying Virginia Beach.  Tonight, Stephanie Harris and Jason Marks are covering a proposal to drop a plan to make students attend school on two more Saturdays to make up for time lost during our winter storms.  Both will have reports during our 90 minutes of news, with Jason staying on the story for our late night news.

The first thing I see in the WAVY newsroom: Morning anchor Don Roberts finishing up his shift on a sunny Tuesday.

The first thing I see in the WAVY newsroom: Morning anchor Don Roberts finishing up his shift on a sunny Tuesday.

The sun looks inviting as morning anchor Don Roberts sits in silhouette finishing up his long day.  He gives me his usual “SEE yah” as I work in the friendly chatter of the WAVY newsroom.    All of us are thrilled that nature has broken winter’s icy grip, and thus gives Don Slater a break from our ”Top 5 at 5.”  

 


The Newsroom’s top 5 at 5: When to talk

February 12th, 2014 at 2:38 pm by under 10 On Your Side, News, Personalities, Uncategorized

“We’re following Breaking News!”

The graphics, the music, the tone, command your attention, because something is happening now.  It’s how a well-oiled news operation works.  But speed must be tempered with accuracy and context.  Often times, Nicole Livas and I work without scripts in such fluid situations.  We filter information from our assignment desk through our producers and reporters, who often times communicate with us on the fly during big stories.  So Nicole and I must develop a feel for each other’s rhthym.   I’m often asked, “How do you know when to talk?”   My answer is simple, “when Nicole’s finished, I talk.”

It sounds easier than it is.  Timing comes from getting to know your co-anchor’s style, and move beyond the words.  Often times, it works like two guitar players finishing each other’s part.  Other times, someone steps on a word or two.  But, it’s the information that’s paramount–such as the five things to look for starting on WAVY News 10 at 5.

1.)  Wednesday winter storm or washout?  Once again, Hampton Roads’ frigid fight with the season takes center stage.  By the time you read this, it may be snowing in your neighborhood.  The Super Doppler 10 Weather Center is popping today.  Take a moment to see our weather blogs, where Jeremy Wheeler calls the developing scenario for the East Coast a “mess.”  But as I’ve said before, the forecast could change.  So tune in at 5.

2.) Williamsburg Winter   Those of you living on the peninsula could be on the edge of the worst local weather from this system, which is why we have Jason Marks on the road in Williamsburg.   He’ll make several appearances between 5 and 6:30 pm. 

3.)  Suffolk tragedy two-fold   In less than 12 hours,  two vehicles went into two different ponds in Suffolk, with deadly results.  One of the accidents claimed a young mother of two.  Art Kohn and Stephanie Harris have compelling interviews you’ll see throughout our 90 minutes of news.

4.)  HRBT revisited    Andy Fox investigates what happened when a metal plate through a man’s truck shut down the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and I-64 during Tuesday’s rush hour.  He has a long list of questions for VDOT. 

5.)  Two buck minimum  Democrats in the Virginia Senate narrowly passed a two dollar increase in the state’s minimum wage to $9.25.    The GOP controlled House of Delegates may have other ideas. 

Nicole and I will be ready for these stories and other “breaking news” scenerios beginning at 5. 

 


The Newsroom: Top 5 at 5.

February 10th, 2014 at 2:28 pm by under 10 On Your Side, News, Personalities
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WAVY’s Asst. News Director Mark Kurtz oversees Executive Producer Bob Bennett.

“Attention stations!”

It’s a commanding electronic voice that conveys an urgent need to listen.  We call it the “squawk box:” NBC’s pipeline to local stations which informs our newsroom about stories of national or even world significance.  The voice on the other end may tell us President Obama is preparing for a newsconference, or that video is coming of a wildfire in California.   Our early evening 90 minutes of news is primarily local, however, so any bulletins shouted from the network will be carefully reviewed by our producers and management staff before inclusion in our days events immediately preceeding “NBC Nightly News. ”  

“Are we doing enough weather?”  shouted Assistant News Director Mark Kurtz.  Which brings me to the first of five things to watch on WAVY News 10 beginning at 5:

1.)  Winter’s worn out welcome.  Here we go again.   We have not one, but TWO chances of snow this week.  The hour to hour probabilities are detailed in a series of excellent blogs composed by members of our weather team.  But any obeserver of meteorology knows the forecast changes hour to hour.  Thus, you need to watch the latest forecast beginning at 5.

2.)  Saturday school?  Erin Kelly spoke with a member of the school board in Virginia Beach about the recent decision to make up snow days on Saturdays, which riled both parents and students.  What this board member said may surprise you.

3.) Give us just a little more time  Which brings us to another school district and how it plans to make up snow days, without having students attend extra days.   There’s a logical explanation.  You’ll see tonight.

4.)  Life in the cash lane?   A Norfolk City Councilman wants an all cash lane at the Downtown Tunnel.   Anita Blanton is working the story, and she’ll tell us why he’s pushing for it.

5.)  Eminent domain scam?    By now you may have seen our previews of a special report by Jason Marks about a man from Virginia Beach and his land deal with VDOT.  When he refused VDOT’s first offer,  the agency made a second offer, but its a practice that has some landowners calling it a scam.   This is a true example of how we’re on your side.  Jason spent two months researching this story.  You’ll see it at 6.

Nicole Livas and I will see you at 5!


The Newsroom

February 7th, 2014 at 2:52 pm by under 10 On Your Side, News, Personalities, Uncategorized

NewsroomSmall.jpgSo much of what you see between 5pm and 6:30 on WAVY-TV is the result of many minds and hands working feverishly behind the scenes.  As one of the anchors of the evening news, I work with a stable of talented reporters, producers, editors, photographers, directors, and the list goes on.   WAVY.com has a small but dedicated staff feeding a digital beast with an insatible appetite for content.   So, whether you download an app, log on, or hit the remote at 4:58 PM,  here are five things to look for in our 90 minutes of news.

Our 5pm producer Stephanie Duke is watching two monitors at her desk, and warns me not to take her picture.  As she juggles the show rundown, Stephanie barely makes eye contact with me, as she says “we’re hearing from a lot of parents in Virginia Beach over those school snow days.”   Erin Kelly is working on a follow-up to a decision to have students go to school on Saturdays following last week’s bout with winter.  I’ll only say it has a religious tone.  (That’s what we call a ”tease.)   As we talk about those unlucky students, a bulletin comes in about a commerical plane landing in Turkey following a bomb threat tied to the Olympic Games in Sochi.

Laura Mammarella has taken the reigns of today’s 5:30 show, and tells me my co-anchor Nicole Livas,  is working the story of the recent coal ash spill, and why it may be worse than we first thought. 

WAVY producer Laura Mammarella

WAVY producer Laura Mammarella

Jessica Ross produces WAVY News 10 at 6, and talked about three new arrests in the death of a police officer, who disappeared five days ago.   Also,  Newport News police picked up more than two dozen people for participation in the world’s oldest profession.   Now it’s time for the afternoon meeting.  I’ll see you at 5!


Tom Schaad: Through the Lens

February 3rd, 2014 at 2:37 pm by under Uncategorized

Those of you who visit my Facebook page know that I enjoy taking photos.    Various scenes from a hobbyist’s camera give you a glimpse of what I choose to share.   Rarely do I indulge in the “selfie” craze which has taken social media by storm.   This is about as close as I get.   Photographer Rob Coble asked me to do test shots for some station photos.   The Face of Fox,  Andria Lea, was behind the scenes and caught some images of this session, along with a portrait you will not see as my official picture. 

Photographer Rob Coble shooting test shots for official station portrait.

Photographer Rob Coble shooting test shots for official station portrait.

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NOT the official WAVY portrait.